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tv   U.S. Senate Re-air K Sens. Coons Cortez Masto on Coronavirus  CSPAN  March 26, 2020 5:53am-6:23am EDT

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political point-scoring to get in the way of telling the truth or working together in a clear-eyed way to address the challenges at hand. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.: i asks under the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coons: mr. president, i came to this building, this capitol about 12 hours ago today and recorded first thing this morning a video to share on social media with folks back at home who are been eagerly asking what's up, what's happening, what's next. and my message was simple. after days of disagreement and of tuesdayling, of fighting -- of tussling, of fighting, of crafting, we have a deal and i am ready to vote. let's move forward. 12 hours later i stand in a largely empty chamber with an odd sense of foreboding as i
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have all day, as have many of my colleagues wondering what is taking so long, what is the delay, what are the remaining issues. and i am hopeful, prayerfully, that we will resolve what is left, move to this chamber, take up the text, vote it out, send it to the house, send it to the president, and send $2 trillion in support o to our nation. but let me tell you as i have waited today and yesterday, as i've taken phone calls from folks from delaware, for whatever reason they all say when will the senate act. and we faced a challenge over our last couple of days between moving swiftly and moving wisely, to put together a package of this size with no hearings, with no committee proceedings, with no detailed
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legislative process means it is -- means there are rough edges, means there will be mistakes in this bill. is it perfect? no. in fact, in some pieces we will discover as it unfolds, far from it. but across the country, just as in this chamber, there is that sense of anxiousness, of anxiety, of when will it happen. just a few weeks ago, the vast majority of our country was reading about coronavirus, about covid-19, as something happening in distant countries on far shores. they read about sort of concerns about its alarming and rapid growth in asia and then europe. things started changing as the stories got more dire and more grave. as public health officials began to predict a global pandemic. as the world health organization announced it a global pandemic,
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as scientific leaders began to say that the united states would inevitably be touched by it, as our colleagues from the pacific northwest told us about how their communities were being affected, has extended contacts and friends and acquaintances on social media and the press shared how they or members of their community had become infected. and as it began to move across our country, began to impact a remarkable range of institutions from baseball to broadway. the cloture motion of all sorts of treasured american institutions, every major sports league, every major public gathering, and as now state after state has issued edicts, as city and county alike all over our county has -- all over our country have asked people to close their restaurants and their bars, their small businesses, as hotels have no
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occupants, as airplanes fly with no passengers, it's become haunting, eerie, the sense of an imminent disaster. just before coming over here, i read an article in "the new york times" about how in my region in the mid-atlantic, it has hit. in the borough of queens, in the city of new york, in a public hospital known as elmhurst yesterday, 13 patients died. and in a riveting account, the nurses and the doctors described a catastrophic situation. public health officials, strained health aides stretched to their limits, tested as they hadn't been before, struggling to get personal protective equipment, to have enough ventilators, to have enough i.c.u. units. and i will tell you, as over the last couple of days, i have talked with the heads of each of our major hospitals, folks who
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run skilled nursing facilities, nonprofit community health centers. as i have heard from nurses and doctors, i know the level of alarm and concern has steadily risen in recent days. so, folks, tonight as i stand here on the floor of the senate, i am mindful that our nation is suffering. that there are people all over the world but particularly here in the united states, in the states that we represent who are anxious, who are unemployed, who are uncertain. in some cases now too many who are infected, who are hospitalized. it has come home to this chamber as one of our colleagues has tested practice and one of our dear colleagues' husband, spouse, is hospitalized. we know members of the house and the senate and the staff and our immediate community have been touched by this dread disease. we are now at a critical moment
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in our modern history, simultaneously a public health crisis and an economic crisis. i've heard too many people say it's unprecedented. it's not unprecedented. the united states and our nation have made it through tougher times than this. to say that the great depression in the second world war, the civil war, and the revolution, the hard work of labor organizing and the desperate work of throwing off the shackles of segregation and of jim crow, to say that those weren't tough and difficult struggles misses the significance of our history and the things we have overcome. but for most of us, for most of our families, for most of our communities, this wave, this pandemic, this virus and the combined health and economic disaster that is upon us may be the greatest test we have faced. so how have we answered? thousands of businesses already
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closed. millions of people already unemployed. and a nation fearful of a pandemic swamping the resources of our hospitals and our health system. let me just speak briefly in broad strokes to what is in this bill, which we have finally ultimately hammered out after days of disagreement. and in advance of our getting the final official text. in the broadest strokes, the help that will be delivered to the american people by this bill starts with individual, something the president has championed, the democrats have supported. we have had different investigators of it, but we have roughly agreed. on $1,200 to every adult citizen making below $75,000, and it phases out to those making below $100,000, with $500 per child, your average family might well see $3,000 to $4,000. these checks will come out in
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weeks, delivered directly for those with direct deposit through the i.r.s. or by check to those harder to find who haven't filed recently but are eligible. this is a remarkable direct support to help millions of americans have cash in their family checkbook to get through the unexpected hardship of these next few months. there's more than $100 billion in this bill to support our health workers on the front line and the hospitals that make our public health possible. possible. you heard that story about elmhurst hospital. in my own home state, there are hospitals large and small that without this support will struggle to make it through this period. the heroes of this period are the folks who are working, the folks who are cleaning offices,
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trains, hospital rooms, often without enough protective equipment, often without health care themselves, often without adequate pay. the folks who labor at night here in this capitol in our offices to make sure they are clean and safe from this virus we can't see. the folks who work in public hospitals, work long hours. they are orderlies, they are nurses. they are the paramedics and ambulance drivers who deliver the sick, and they are the surgeons and the doctors who direct their care. and one of the things i am proudest of that is in this now that was not in this several days ago is $150 billion to states and counties and cities. the ten years i spent in county government, i came to deeply respect the men and women who help keep our county government afloat and our community stronger, safer, and healthy. this support, this direct support to the states and the counties on the front lines of this epidemic will help them get through it. there's a $500 billion fund, the
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subject of much discussion and debate, that as initially written and proposed would help sustain some of our iconic industries like the airlines, but with almost no transparency, in terms of the terms of the loans or the grants that would be given and almost no restrictions on how the companies to receive them might use them for what purposes. broadly speaking, after days of fighting, we have come to agreements that i support and embrace -- restrictions on buybacks and dividends and executive compensation, guarantees against layoffs and against the destruction of collective bargaining agreements, and broadly speaking transparency and accountability. one of the things i am most proud of is that there will be now an accountability board, a pandemic response accountability committee, both a special inspector general and $80 million in this bill for the operation of that accountability
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committee. let me move since i see i have a number of colleagues who joined me on the floor to just a few other points, if i could. there is $350 billion in this bill for the small business administration to disburse to small businesses and to nonprofits all over our country, with an incentive structure to change it from a loan to a grant to those who would retain or rehire their workforce. as i have heard from restaurant owners, from hotel owners, from those who work in bars and restaurants and hotels in my community, those are the folks who have been hit the first and the hardest by the closures. this provision will allow those small businesses to reopen quickly and robustly when we get on the other side of this pandemic. and i look forward to working with my colleagues, with the s.b.a. administrator, with the s.b.a. lenders in my state and around the country to make sure it's done well and that it's done quickly. i wrote the bill that added $17 billion more so that 320,000
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current small businesses who are current s.b.a. loan holders get six months of relief, moves them off the agenda of the s.b.a. staff and the s.b.a. lenders to clear the decks for them to administer this $350 billion, and i supported senator cardin and his initiative to add $10 billion for small rapid grants to the most severely impacted businesses and nonprofits. this section of the overall bill where senators rubio, collins, cardin, and shaheen negotiated most of it struck me as the most bipartisan and most productive. there is so much more in this bill i could speak to. the ways in which the resources of the federal reserve are going to be deployed to help medium small businesses and small businesses -- medium businesses and small businesses. the way in which the private sector in my home state has stepped up to partner and deliver critically needed resources, whether it is to
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refurbish ventilators or donating surplus p.p.e. from the private sector that they don't need today or the university that has closed its research labs but makes its resources available to our hospital. there are some remarkable efforts at partnership going on in my community and around the country. but at the end of the day, we have a critical question. is this bill perfect? no. could we i am prove it -- improve it by more time here arguing with each other, offering more amendments, debating further? yes. is there something i badly wanted that did not get in this final bill? absolutely. we have had nine major states delay their elections, delay their presidential primaries because of this pandemic, and i urge that a bill written by my colleague, senator klobuchar and senator wyden that i join be added in text to require every state to have a plan to vote by mail during this pandemic. if our troops could vote from the front lines in the civil war and second world war, by gosh,
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we should have a plan to vote even if this pandemic continues. i was disappointed that text is ultimately not going to be in this bill. $400 million will be in to help those states that want to vote by mail, to expand and strengthen vote by mail, and i will be back. i will be back to insist on this provision in the next bill. but as i have said to many colleagues in the last few days, we cannot all get everything we hoped for and want and believe to be important in this bill. we must put down the tools of partisanship and personal interest and conscionable concerns. we must put down some of the things we most hoped for. we must put down the tools with which we so often fight each other. and we must come together and take up the implements of national purpose, of compromise, of consensus, and deliver these resources to a nation anxious, concerned, and at times even
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angry. at all of us in the senate for what they see as too long a delay. so with that, let me just say to my colleagues, it is time for us to take up this bill, rough hewn as it is, pass it through this chamber, send it to the house. i have urged my colleagues in the house to pass it promptly, send it to the president's desk for signature and then let us all get to the hard work of making sure we do the best we can for the people we represent with this historic stimulus package, this remarkable coronavirus relief package that is going to deliver $2 trillion of assistance and support to communities all over our country. thank you, mr. president. with that, i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from nevada. ms. rosen: i rise to let all nevadans know the responses to the pandemic we are facing right now. the coronavirus presents a global challenge to the health and economic security of nevada and the united states. my statutes today are with those in nevada who are ill or suffering with the virus and with the families of the six nevadans who have died because of this disease. ms. cortez masto: i also want to thank the brave men and women on the front lines of this crisis, the first responders and health care workers who are battling to save lives, putting their own health and the health of their families at risk. i know there is a lot of fear and confusion in our communities right now.
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please know this, though. i am working closely with the governor of nevada and the nevada delegation to ensure that our state gets the resources it needs to stem the spread of the coronavirus, to treat those who need medical attention, and address the needs of struggling families and businesses. i also know that we are nevada strong. i've seen over and over again that when things get difficult, nevadans come together. when a gunman attacked the route 91 harvest festival in las vegas, i saw how nevadans from all over the state worked heroically to help victims and support families. and nevadans are uniting now, too. i'm proud to say that across the silver state, people are doing their part to reduce the impact of covid-19. our governor has shown tremendous leadership in working
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to slow the spread of the coronavirus. as governor sisselack has pointed out, we need everyone to stay home for nevada. our nurses, doctors, and health officials are working tirelessly to care for the sick and to increase our capacity to deal with the cases in the future. first responders, local health authorities, sanitation workers, and retail workers are on the job around the clock to make sure that essential services are available to nevadans. and our gaming, entertainment, and hospitality leaders took steps to stop the spread of up fection including by closing their doors. and so many nevadans are contributing by working from home when they can, caring for school-aged children, volunteering to help make masks or buy groceries for elderly neighbors, and avoiding social
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interactions that could spread the virus. everyone -- every single nevadan, each and every american has a role to play in this crisis. we need everyone to do their part by following the advice of the experts and taking practical, commonsense steps like washing hands and practicing social distancing. and my colleagues and i in congress have done our part as well. the senate has come together in a remarkable and bipartisan fashion to act on three bills to address key health care priorities and to protect workers and industry from the economic impacts of the public health crisis. earlier in march, we set aside $8.3 billion to support hospitals, community health centers, public health offices, medical suppliers, and reference across the country. and then -- and researchers across the country. and then next, we passed the
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bipartisan coronavirus response act to provide free coronavirus testing, to expand food assistance, and mandate paid sick and family leave for workers. and i am proud to have fought alongside my colleagues in nevada's congressional delegation, including my friend and colleague, senator jacky rosen, to pass today's third relief bill. we must pass this today. it is quite simply the greatest single investment in our economy in health care system in modern american history. and we need it. in 2007, our state was hit hard by the recession. through tremendous effort, we came through it, but our economic recovery was slow. this time we want to make sure our economy springs back quickly after this crisis has passed and that workers have good jobs to return to when it does. that's why we need to pass these
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far-reaching measures to provide immediate relief to individuals, families, and businesses suffering from the economic impacts of this pandemic. nevada has an economy that's unique in the nation. our hospitality industry generates nearly $68 billion annually and supports more than 450,000 jobs across the state. so i have been focused on standing up for our gaming, tourism, and hospitality workers. i also wanted to make sure that when we offered relief to big companies, there was oversight, transparency, accountability, and worker protections in place. this bill does that. i am grateful to the many small businesses in my state who have taken the hard but necessary action and closed their doors or reduced their services at this
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critical time. this bill supports them as well. by providing forgivable loans and grants so that they can open the doors again as soon as it is safe for them to do so. most of all, i wanted to make sure we supported nevada's workers and their families, the hardworking people our industries employ. that's why i worked with my senate colleagues to ensure that key protections for nevadans and all americans were included in this relief package. we fought to expand unemployment assistance so that it includes part-time, self-employed, and seasonal and gig economy workers that make up a key part of our labor force in the silver state. whether you're a dishwasher at a hotel on the strip or you're a hair stylist in carson city, you'll be eligible for up to four months of unemployment benefits. and, yes, we've locked down direct payments of $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each
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child, up to a certain income level, so our hardworking families would have money in their pockets to recover from this pandemic. and we successfully pushed to shore up our hospitals and health care infrastructure to get them more money for protective gear, supplies, and tests so that they can provide patients the best possible care while at the same time protecting themselves. so we made sure that we also included our local, state, and tribal communities. we set aside $150 billion for our governments, who are bearing the brunt for the cost for local health care systems. that's why i support this legislation, and that's why we have to pass this tonight. and i would be amiss if i did not say thank you to the incredible staff that worked so hard over this past few days 24/7 to put this relief package together in a bipartisan way,
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from leader schumer's staff and leader schumer, the negotiating team of senators who i get to work with every single day, their hardworking staff and my staff as well who worked late nights to make sure that we were fighting on behalf of nevadans. listen, i know this is a difficult time for everyone, but we are going to get through this, just as we persevered before. and we'll do it by rallying to help one another as nevadans always do. there will be moments of challenge ahead, and each of us has a responsibility to answer these questions. let's listen to the experts. let's take care of one another and let's be kind and understanding of what we are all going through. but let's not lose sight of the beauty of our everyday lives, that familiar rhythm we're all eager to restore. in nevada and across the country, we will be back at our workplaces again solving our
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everyday problems. our children will be back at school learning for themselves how to make the world a better place. and, yes, we'll begin the long task of grieving those we've lost. but we'll also be celebrating marriages again and mark being births with a newfound joy. we will get through this together, and i promise everyone in the silver state that i will be fighting in the senate to make sure we rebound from this stronger than before so that nevadans can get back to work. mr. president, i yield the floor and ask that we pass this bill tonight. i know you feel the same way, and i look forward to working with my colleagues to get that done. thank you very much.
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mr. graham: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. graham: thank you very much. i want to compliment my colleagues, senator tim scott and senator sasse. today when we were getting briefed about the bill, something hit me like a ton of about. there are a lot of good things in here. there's money for health care providers, hospitals, nurses, and doctors. there's so many good things. the country is under siege, and i was one of the first republicans, mr. president, to join my democratic colleagues -- i think i talked to senator durbin -- we need to do something more on unemployment insurance because the collins-rubio construct i think will help, but some people are going to fall through the cracks. never into my wildest dreams, senator durbin, did i believe that what we have done


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